7 Heartburn Myths
Heartburn, that burning feeling under your breastbone, is a symptom of many different conditions. You might notice you tend to get heartburn after eating certain foods or while lying down.
Heartburn can be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), pregnancy, stress, eating large portions, smoking, and more. Having heartburn occasionally is usually nothing to worry about. But having it 2-3 times per week can be a symptom of a more serious condition.
Most people are familiar with one or more of these heartburn symptoms:
- Burning in your chest
- Burning in your throat
- Sour, hot, acidic taste in your throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Discomfort in your chest when lying down or bending over
Heartburn can be uncomfortable for a few minutes or for as long as a couple of hours. Often, people treat it at home with antacids or home remedies.
Many people believe these myths about heartburn because it’s so common. And that can keep people from seeking the medical treatment they need.
7 HEARTBURN MYTHS
- Heartburn is only caused by a poor diet – Food can indeed trigger heartburn, especially fried or fatty foods, but there are many triggers other than food. Some medical conditions and medications can cause heartburn, as well as stress, wearing tight clothes, smoking, and being overweight.
- Heartburn is caused by producing too much acid – Heartburn is caused by acid laking into your esophagus, but it doesn’t always mean you make too much stomach acid. The real cause is your lower esophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle that allows food into your stomach and keeps acid from leaking out. If that muscle weakens or is forced open by pressure, acid can leak into your throat.
- Milk soothes heartburn – Drinking milk to soothe heartburn is a popular home remedy, but you may want to hold off next time. It’s true that milk neutralizes stomach acids at first, but then it triggers more acid production. It’s also hard to digest, which can lead to even more acid production.
- Medications are the only treatment – There are several varieties of over-the-counter (OTC) medications you can take for heartburn, but they are meant to be short-term solutions. If you take OTC medication for heartburn two or more times per week, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause. There may be alternative treatments or therapies that will work better for you.
- It’s no big deal – Heartburn may be common, but it can severely impact your life. If you’re experiencing it frequently, it can disrupt your daily activities. It can also be a sign of a more serious condition that needs medical treatment. It could be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can cause esophageal ulcers, chronic cough, asthma, and other conditions. Untreated, chronic heartburn can increase your risk of esophageal cancer.
- Heartburn is a heart problem – The name and the location of the discomfort can be confusing. Heartburn is a gastrointestinal problem, not a heart problem. The symptoms and triggers are not the same as those for heart conditions.
- If you don’t eat before bed, you won’t get heartburn – If you have acid reflux, it’s common to have symptoms when you’re lying down, when gravity helps move your stomach contents towards your esophagus. It can help to avoid eating at least three hours before bed, but you can still have acid leak up into your esophagus anyway.
Frequent heartburn needs medical treatment. It could be a sign of a more serious condition. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms to rule out GERD or other causes.
Don’t suffer from chronic heartburn any longer – schedule an appointment today!